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A (Very) Short Course for College Students on Saving Money

While there are a few colleges out there that offer courses in personal finance, most schools do not. This leaves many students to muddle through personal finances on their own. But, don’t stress out! This blog post is especially for students who are struggling with basic finances.

The most important way to save money is to eliminate or reduce expenses. It doesn’t matter how much you can save on an item, if you can live without it or you can do with much less, it’s much better to cut the cost altogether.



Cash back isn’t just for credit cards…

If you sign up for a program like or shop at home, you can click through their links to a host of different online retailers and can then earn between 1% and 12% back on your purchase.


Promo codes are like secret passwords…

Unlock those savings. Whenever you get to the checkout page and see the promo-code box make sure to do a quick internet search for “retailer+promo code” to see if you can find anything that will work on your purchase, whether it be a percentage off or free shipping.


Deal sites are dangerous…

Unless you have a plan to buy something that you need. Deal sites can be great if looking for something in particular, but other than that they can be very misleading. The steep discounts on luxury items such as facials, eating out and even hotels can lure buyers into purchases that aren’t needed. Always use caution when visiting these sites.



Grab your little brown bag…

Make yourself a lunch for work and when you’re just hanging out with friends. Even if you’re eating off the dollar menu every time you go out, those dollars quickly add up. If you happen to be out and get hungry often, consider buying a box of granola bars to leave in your car to tide you over until you can get home and prepare an inexpensive lunch.


Brew at home…

Even if you only drink coffee a few times a week, a $10 coffee maker bought on sale and coffee beans bought at the store can translate into immediate savings.


Explore your city, for free…

Especially as a college student, there are lots of free and discounted activities available to you. Most universities let students into school athletic games for free and host a slew of free on-campus events. Even if you want to escape from campus for a little, consider going to a local beach, park, or hiking trail. For activities near you, search “your location + free events” and you’re likely to come up with some new ideas!


Use your oven for a change…

It can be easy to get into the habit of going to restaurants a few times a week just to go out with friends. However saving the expense of eating out for special occasions—birthdays, anniversaries, really big announcements—can be really important to budgeting.


Turn on the faucet…

Just like eating lunch and dinner out every day can add up quickly, a $2 bottle of water every time you get thirsty can take a big chunk out of your wallet. Reuse your water bottles and refill them with tap water—that’s what your immune system is for. However, if you don’t want to rely on your own body’s own defense mechanisms to protect you from toxins in public drinking water, purchase a filtered water bottle and reuse it as long as possible.


Learn to mend…

Pick up a needle and tread. It might seem a little grandma-ish, but being able to quickly fix a small hole or tear can salvage clothing, as well as, will help you avoid buying more clothes.



Necessities, necessities, necessities

One of the most important steps to saving is learning the difference between needs and wants. To really save money it is very important to be able to tell the difference and make purchases that are necessary, not just desirable.

Make a list and check it twice…

Before you go to the store write down or make a list in your phone of the things you need to purchase. This will help you avoid tempting deals or unplanned purchases. Make a list before entering a store or running a series of errands and stick to it.


Quality is key…

When buying, often the least expensive option is not actually the most cost-effective. When making purchases, be sure to read reviews, consider any applicable warranties and quality of the item. If there is much more life in an item it might be worth paying more for as it will need to be replaced less in the long run.


Abort the brand names…

Buying store brand items for groceries and household items doesn’t make you look poor, it makes you look smart and can lead to large savings at the register. Often these items are not only made of the exact same ingredients as the brand name, but are actually made at the same place and then just branded differently. Don’t be fooled into paying more for the same item. What you’re paying for in brand names is often just marketing.


Another man’s trash…

Can be another man’s treasure so consider used good as well. You can save a lot on item if you make “vintage” your friend. Getting items off Craig’s List or at a resale store can be much less expensive than getting new items.

Happy budgeting!


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